Thursday, May 28, 2009

Amnesty International says the rights of the poor have eroded

Amnesty International released their annual report on the state of human rights today. The report claims that the global economic recession has further eroded human rights.

Amnesty points to a couple of ways where the recession has eroded rights. First, in the protests over food prices where governments turned violent on their own people. Second, through the governments spending packages that have helped businesses and banks but not the poor.

From IPS, writer Sanjay Suri gathers some quotes from the Amnesty report.

"The economic crisis is aggravating pre-existing human rights problems such as marginalisation of indigenous peoples, the situation of forced evictions of slum dwellers, and the issue of refugees and migrants," she told IPS in an interview.

"The economic crisis is also throwing up new problems," she said. "We have seen over the last year people turning out on the streets to protest in 17 countries, and when that happened, governments, particularly those of an authoritarian bent, turned on those demonstrations in very harsh ways.

"We have seen people killed in Tunisia, in Cameroon, we have seen the police use excessive force in other places like Egypt, Mali, Senegal. We are seeing more repression coming out of the recession."

Apart from the crackdown on people hit by the recession, Khan said, "some very important human rights problems are not getting the attention and the resources they need. I'm talking about issues like violence against women, and also talking about issues like armed conflicts in Darfur or Somalia or the Congo or Afghanistan or Pakistan."

Governments, she said, "are investing in putting the market straight again. But the market is not going to address human rights problems. When you are going in with an economic recovery package, if you only focus on putting businesses back on their feet, and in putting banks straight, then you miss out on the poor people, and if you don't tackle poverty, then you are not going to have a sustainable economic recovery plan."

The World Bank, she said, had talked about 53 million people being pushed back into poverty as a result of the recession. "Last year the food crisis affected 150 million or so people. That means that all the progress that has been made over the past decade has been wiped away."

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